The inside line on WRC’s 2022 tech rules

Hyundai WRC

Now we have a clear picture of what the next generation Rally1 Cars will look like, DirtFish caught up with FIA rally director Yves Matton for the lowdown on the some of the decisions behind the new World Rally Championship rules.

DirtFish: Earlier this year, it was clear the manufacturers were divided over the way forward with the Internal Combustion Engine side of 2022. M-Sport and Hyundai favoured a move to a Rally2 base engine, while Toyota wanted to stick with the current Global Race Engine.

What was the thinking behind GRE, when we were told it would be more expensive that the Rally2 alternative?

Yves Matton: The main idea is that, first we needed common agreement from all the manufacturers – they will be involved in 2022 and we do not want to leave one on the side. It’s one of our main focuses to have our manufacturers with us in 2022.

It was a long discussion about the engine and, in the end, some major difficulties were put forward with the Rally2 engine. And [then] we start to work on how could we reduce drastically the cost of the Global Race Engine. And we did together a really deep analysis and detailed work to bring us to a quite intensive cost reduction.

Rally Mexico 2020

DF: How much does it save?

YM: I will not say we will achieve the same as the cost of the Rally2 engine, but we have a good compromise with less engines [per season] and we are also avoiding the additional development cost of the Rally2 engine. As well as this we freeze the development of Global Race Engine.

This was the best compromise: based on reduction of engines, freezing the development and taking into consideration that using the Rally2 engine as it is at the moment was not possible – all of the manufacturers had to put more development cost to this engine and that would have increased the cost of this engine. With all this information the decision was taken to go for the solution we have.

Yves Matton
Maybe you have to go to aerospace to change your approach as an engineer, if you want to work without any limit. Honestly, I don’t see any championship where there is no limit Yves Matton

DF: We’ve seen the cars will have less technology than right now, there’s no centre differential for 2022, they’ll be running a five-speed gearbox and there will be aero changes. Can you understand the engineering argument that the WRC is supposed to be the pinnacle of everything – including rally technology?

YM: On a pure engineering side I can understand them. And on a pure engineering side, we are far away from the cars we had in 2004, 2005 and 2006. But if they want to be involved in the World Rally Championship in the future, maybe they have to speak more closely with their team principal [and talk about] what are the budget constraints.

I fully understand engineers want to be at the pinnacle, but at the end we need to keep the level of cost in relation to the return on investment, [so] that we can offer to the manufacturers a level where they want to use the WRC as a marketing tool.

Unfortunately I’m not sure that the principle to have the pinnacle of engineering will fit inside this ratio.

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DF: Are we in danger of being left behind other disciplines in terms of technology?

YM: If I have a look to the other disciplines, I’m not sure there are disciplines with a level of technology at the pinnacle. I don’t see them. Maybe you have to go to aerospace to change your approach as an engineer, if you want to work without any limit.

Honestly, I don’t see any championship where there is no limit. Even when you look at Formula 1, you will understand engineers will not be able to go anymore to their limit in engineering in what they could develop in the future.

DF: What does the GRE mean for the target price of the car. We’ve heard rumours of the cost of rally cars rising for 2022…

YM: No. From the calculation we made and the information we received from the manufacturers, it seems we will still be at the same level of the target price we always talked about for these cars, which is €500,000.

Words:David Evans

Photography:André Lavadinho